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03.05.02 10:03 p.m.

I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed.

 -Dalai Lama  

Previously in Xenology: Emily and I began going out and had problems because we neglecting to get to know one enough well enough beforehand. Zack acts, sings, and dances very well. Emily needs a job. The members of PSU act like horny, mildly retarded monkeys because they think they can get away with it.

Heart of Darkness
Emily and I are not going out right now. I have an empty ache deep inside of me because of this, but I know it is the reality in which I am currently entangled.
I was expressing my issues to Eileen last night. Basically, I was not happy that I had been feeling annoyed and snippy with Emily lately. Note that I am not saying she, per se, did anything to warrant my feeling this way. I merely did and didn't like that about myself at all.
In addition, I sang that same old song. (Sing along, you all should know the lyrics by now.) I did not feel sexual at all and didn't quite know what I was doing in a romantic relationship with another human being.
So, last night, I broached these topics with a just awoken Emily. She took these things surprisingly well. Significantly less crying on both sides, though I could tell that both of us were biting back tear at times. We decided, or rather I suggested and she didn't cry, that we try to just be very good friends for a while and see where that took us. Hopefully, the end result would be that we would get back together and be really good, something neither of us felt we were before.
I know some of you won't understand why I am so forlorn being the one that made this awful decision. Actually, some of you are deluded enough to think this is a thing that should be causing my pleasure. If you feel this way, know this, if you know nothing else, I very likely hate you.
It is not that I do not want to be with Emily. I very much do, and that is my reason behind this. Our relationship, in my opinion and from my side, was headed to a very bad place where we might even lose our friendship. If I was acting so resentful of her, as I felt I was, then it was a slippery slope to a darker state.
My hope is that this psychoemotional distance will allow us to fall in love, in a very real sense. When we started out, everything was far too rushed and it made me decidedly uncomfortable. As such, my lack of comfort in the relationship was transferred to Emily. This manifested in my having trouble with physical intimacy and the ephemeral intimacy that is inherent in the sort of relationship I desire.
Okay, I'll put it in simpler terms for all of us. I never got to really know her as a friend. I love Eileen, Melissa, Conor, Zack, Kate, etc. because I got to know them, over time, in low pressure situations. We are making relationships, not diamonds. Before I began anything romantic with Eileen or Kate, I knew them for years. I got to know little nuances that I craved. Things evolved naturally. With Emily, much as I love her, things got pushed too fast by both of us. My hope is that, by being friends for a while, we will grow to internally learn that we are in love to the extent that we need to be romantically conjoined.
This is not too irrational, is it?
We are basically dating casually, I think. We don't have a term for it. I asked her what we are and she responded, "Well, I am me and you are you." I felt this summed it up nicely. We are still making plans and, if nothing else, she is a great friend. However, we are not to kiss, save on the cheek. Sleepovers are not okay right now. We are to treat one another as friends. We are not to sit in my room and do nothing, which was one of our habits that contributed to my resentment of the situation. We are to try to hang out in public places, with other friends around. This is not so we will not jump each other, as I don't think that would be a problem. However, this is because I grow to love her best when I witness the interaction we share with Melissa or Conor. She reflects their beauty and they reflect hers. So, this will help me to grow deeper in love with her.
It is immensely difficult, however. She came over tonight, in order to study and watch Buffy together. I think that she was worried about me, because I was feeling quite ill (likely psychosomatically spurred on by the amount of grief and stress I have put myself under with this endeavor).
I typed up a paper for Jenks's class and she studied some religious essay for a midterm. It was nice, and calm. She had brought me glazed doughnuts, which I emotionally needed more than I gave myself credit. I was okay, though I wanted to kiss and hold her. When I saw that the claudaugh ring I gave her was inverted, meaning that she belonged to no one, my heart sank. It was the first physical manifestation of this pact and it cut into me. I had been wearing mine as I always did, though I inverted it when I saw hers. I suppose I should not go about this halfway. This is what I said I wanted.
I just wished I could show half the strength she is, whether it is actual strength or merely showing weakness in more private venues. I am, evidently, not a private fellow. I am making my pain explicit and quite public.
I thought, perhaps, that I would feel like I was on the right journey toward the perfection of our relationship. But it hurts me to know I am not in her best graces. I know that I am in her heart and I very much know she loves me. But the pain I feel permeates and makes this budding spring a Garden of Gethsemane. If I give in, I have her for the moment. A little while. But it may not last. But if I can truly rid myself of this boorish behavior and grow to love her the better, I can have her for as long as we wish.
Temptation and I were never on very good terms, but this is all about the journey, isn't it?

Leave the Wall
M and I went to see Zack in The Fantasticks on Thursday. We weren't actually terribly sure what role he played. We merely heard Esquimaux mention that he was busy with the play, and of course assumed that he had a major role. He's Zack, you see. He has to be the star.
We had decided to take one car after M's job interview (more on that below). As I was very lethargic owing to lack of sleep, I asked M to drive my car. Unfortunately, she broke the key off in my lock. I didn't really need my car anyway. Actually, I didn't much mind. I assumed that my house would have keys for me and we could merely stop by and pick one up later. In the mean time, I could poke people with my HalfAKey, the toy that everyone is dying to have.
Stevehen, who was selling tickets, let us in free, though we did recompense him by giving him some of the KFC we had for dinner. Quality food, you know. He also chastised me, as he was reading an old journal entry that mentions Kate and me not liking Tina's boyfriend and didn't realize this was from the time before he existed. I assured him that we always liked him very, very much and were glad he was with Tina.
I sat down next to M, after returning from the bathroom, and she motioned over to a gentleman wearing a tan overcoat. Oh, Zack. I see. M told me not to bother him, because he was in character. I referred to him in the third person and he said, "Hi, [Xen]." Evidently not that much in character. We spoke with him briefly, though he mostly sat and looked at the program, as was the stage direction evidently. It gave him an air of forced nonchalance. I asked M if I should inquire as to the state of him relationship with Esquimaux. He nonverbally let me know that it was evidently a lot more to her than it was to him and they had not seen one another in months. Oh. I'm thinking not so much then. I was about to tell him as much, but Esquimaux vaunted down the aisle before I could say anything incriminating. This is what we call comic timing.
The play was rather good. Zack played El Gallo, a role I know he has coveted since he first performed in the show as Matt. The character of Louisa whose "ugly duckling features one day became beautiful. The shock from this caused her to become crazy." (I am paraphrasing) reminded me more than a little of a caricature of Sarah, who became quite beautiful and quite abstractly philosophical at about the same time.
Overall, and I am not merely saying this because I like the boy, Zack was the highlight of the show. He had the most charisma, the best character, and quite a nice stage presence. The Mute, turned sparkling Temptress in this production, was very good as well but, obviously, said and sang nothing. Afterward, I accosted her in the dressing room and asked her to please speak. She did so with a querulous look. Stevehen stated that I was the older brother of Bryan. I followed that I was generally more composed, save that I try to make Mutes speak to me. She smiled, though it was unfortunately the smile of one who has no idea what is going on and fears they are being teased.

Jamie Hoffa
Thursday afternoon, Emily had a job interview on campus. Evidently, she has been offered a job being a union organizer throughout the country. Unfortunately, this means quite a bit of traveling and eighty hour work weeks. Still, it doesn't involve Women's Studies.
The interview was, strangely enough, conducted in the coffeehouse on campus. Fortunately enough, I happened to be sitting in the coffeehouse reading when I heard Emily voice hit the "I am trying to impress you, yet still seem personable" tone that both of us affect in dealing with those pleasant people who hold options in their hands.
I tried to listen in on the conversation, for posterity's sake. However, M's lilting voice ended up leading me to an uneasy sleep on the faux leather chair. Usually, I can sleep soundly if I am near someone who makes me feel safe. So, Emily. However, my brain was torn between the idea that she was near and the fact that she was far enough away that she was not protecting my being awoken. Thus, uneasy.
While I was lightly napping, fully prepared to throw my hardcover book at the first person to so much as make a noise within ten feet of me, one of the only members of PSU sat down on the sofa next to me. I mumbled a greeting of sorts, explaining that he very nearly got some Anne Rice upside his cranium. He seemed okay with this idea. He asked why I no longer attended PSU, at their topic that night is the lack of member retention. I explained that I have serious issues with the power hungry nature of the club officers and I did not really wish to be associated with people we equated molesting random strangers with earth-centered religions. PSU was the reason there would be prejudice against Pagans on campus, not the solution. He took this very well and said he would broach the subject with the members in attendance. I think it will do very little good, but I welcome him to try.
Back to the point, M also had a job interview with All Sport. She thought it would be a nice little personal training job, which is a concept only she really understands. However, they seem to run a "tight ship" in much the same way Mussolini did (I am paraphrasing M). While the interview went well, it was merely the first of many. The next interview would involve the entire staff watching M work out on their machines for two hours straight. Even to a normal person - whatever species that may be - working out for hours while being scrutinized is a nightmare inducing concept. Now factor in a body image disorder and general stage fright. Even if she were to meet this gauntlet, it would just mean she would be granted another interview. And, seriously, the staff trains customers while wearing khaki pants. That's just not right.

Soon in Xenology: The fun experiences with my ex-classmate's parents. Making friends in coffeehouses. Dave's party. Final Fantasy X. The classroom visit.

last watched: The Amityville Horror
reading: The Simpsons and Philosophy : The D'Oh! of Homer
listening: not a whole lot. Music is not my friend right now.
wanting: Things to be as they should between M and me.
interesting thought: Sometime, pain become necessary for the world to be whole.
moment of zen: finally doing was I need to be doing.
someday I must: make things right.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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